- Title: Phantazein
- Editor: Tehani Wessely
- Authors: Faith Mudge, Thoraiya Dyer, Gitte Christensen, Vida Cruz, Cat Sparks, Suzanne J Willis, S G Larner, Rabia Gale, Jenny Blackford, Charlotte Nash, Nicole Murphy, Foz Meadows and Moni, Tansy Raynor Roberts
- Category: Short Story Anthology / Fantasy Fiction
- Publisher: Fablecroft Publishing
- Cover Art: Kathleen Jennings
Summary: You think you know all the fables that have ever been told. You think you can no longer be surprised by stories. Think again. With origins in myth, fairytales, folklore and pure imagination, the stories and poems in these pages draw on history that never was and worlds that will never be to create their own unique tales and traditions…
Review: Purchased at the book launch at Conflux in October, I’d been really looking forward to reading Phantazein since then. It wasn’t until the Christmas break that I had time, and not till now to comment on it. Busy busy! I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every story behind the beautifully designed cover, though there were several standouts for me with The Nameless Seamstress, Rag and Bone Heart, The Ghost of Hephaestus and for the girl (me!) who always wanted her own dragon, I loved Scales of Time.
Phantazein editor Tehani Wessely, says in her introduction ‘the stories in these pages are inspired by mythology, by fairy tales, and by the tradition of fantasy itself’ – and she was spot on. The stories are beautifully told with richly woven worlds and characters I want to know more about. In fact, I would love to read extended versions or novellas of many of the stories.
I was first drawn into Phantazien with Twelfth by Faith Mudge with the dark and dangerous ogress, Ostra, who seeks revenge. I enjoyed Bahamut by Thoraiya Dyer about the Royal Widow of the Valley of Mirages, a former priestess who must save a kingdom. One of my favourite stories in the anthology was The Nameless Seamstress by Gitte Christensen, about the Weaver of Moon Mountain who weaved silk, and the nameless seamstress who created the garments with the silk for the Cloud Court.
How the Jungle got its Spirit Guardian by Vida Cruz, one of the longer stories in Phantazein, was soaked in imagery of the jungle, its gods and the lives of Idra and his daughter Tenu. The Seventh Relic by Cat Sparks told the story Mei-yu, a Buddist nun who has lived untold lives, and of temples and ancient relics in a modern world. Another favourite of mine was Rag and Bone Heart by Suzanne J Willis; the story begins with the grinding footfalls of the Stonemen, the loss of a sister and the dangerous touch of a King.
Kneaded by S G Larner was a delight to read with sweets and charms and a girl called Berry who tastes like sugar, and The Village of no Women by Rabia Gale was the dark tale of a scholar who created wives from animals, claiming the most majestic for himself, but like a woman, an animal is not to be controlled.
The Lady of Wild Things by Jenny Blackford told of cruel nymphs, love and sacrifice. Following was The Ghost of Hephaestus by Charlotte Nash, another of my favourites, a mash of steampunk and Greek mythology about a woman ‘not of bones and blood. Her chest is caged in the dull glint of forged silver. A pump turns beneath, feeding a tangle of pipes, finger-thick to hair fine, each peristalising in the rythym of her pulse. …’, and the physician who tries to save her.
A Cold Day by Nicole Murphy tells of a potter whose task is protect children from darkness and ‘keep them people of light‘, with decorated pots to assist the birth of a child. An illustrated poem, Scales of Time by Foz Meadows with illustrations by Moni, told the story of a dragon, a girl and their bond of a lifetime. Just beautiful. I want a dragon. Please.
The Love Letters of Swans by Tansy Rayner Roberts, the last in the anthology, was a wonderfully wicked read, and a great finish to the book. A twist on the story of Helen of Troy, I enjoyed this suspenseful tale of fused Greek mythology and fantasy.
Overall, a fantastic read, and although I had favourites, which is to be expected, each story kept me turning the pages.
In fact here I am – enjoying Phantazein in the best way possible (well if a dragon was nearby it would have been even better!)
Upcoming release from Fablecroft Publishing:
I’m really looking forward to the next publication from Fablecroft: Cranky Ladies of History, an anthology ‘celebrating cranky ladies of history with stories grounded in historical fact…mostly…’. This is going to be good – from French pirates to an Albanian warrior, queens, a serial killer and advocates of women’s rights (plus more)! See the table of contents of the anthology HERE. Release date is March 8th, 2015.
Love this comment – Fablecroft’s definition of cranky ladies – ‘Our definition of “cranky’ is rather broad, and stems somewhat more from a tendency to buck societal standards of the era than a true inherent crankiness.’
Read all Welcome To My Library Book Reviews HERE
FableCroft Publishing is a boutique press dedicated to the future of speculative fiction in Australia.
The creation of Australian editor Tehani Wessely, FableCroft has a charter to promote both emerging and established authors and artists in the speculative fiction field, as well as the broad genre as a whole.
This book has been read and reviewed for the 2015 Australian Women Writers challenge. To read more about the challenge see their website www.australianwomenwriters.com To read about why I joined click HERE.